It's no mean task driving along Mumbai roads. It's literally an achievement to survive years without a warning, penalties and even more importantly an accident. It can be harder though if you're a woman driver in India. All eyes on you. You commit a mistake and get ready to be subjected to all sorts of gender discrimination. But have you driven on Goa roads? Take a Mumbai plate car to Goa and then drive through Panjim. Gender is not the issue here. It will somehow alter itself. The locals will have no reservations in shouting absurds words just for the sake of intimidation. It somehow gets justified when you envisage your options, the absolutely obstinate, illogically over priced Goa taxi driver.
So consider that after driving on any mean, tough Indian road you relocate abroad and you may have to resit your Practical and theory tests. Do you remember when and where your Driving Test in Mumbai even took place? Was it the reliable Bhogilal driving test or the shady Janata Driving class that was an unwilling aide to your own wheels. For most people, it's the quick road sign identification, some few questions of a chart, some visual aid, and the Practical manoeuvre. Seems harmless and accomplished in a jiffy.
Well, all that comes back to haunt you when you re-sit those tests in a foreign land under stricter rules and tight guidelines. It makes me relive all those wrong turns, harmless honking, sharp u-turns, close shaves with pedestrians and the list goes on. Not insisting children wear seat belts or having them seated on our laps whilst being seated in front, have been the biggest burdens to bear. Do we subject ourselves to such carelessness that we risk peoples lives almost daily? Sometimes, our love needs to take a backseat and safety should be placed first. These are all rules that have been taught but they have never been rigidly enforced making it easy to forget they were ever there in the handbook.
There are things that kids make us do when driving deserves a special mention here. This is one of those hilarious WhatsApp forwards and one can almost relate to it instantaneously. Brings a bit of humor into everyday life skills.
Will all my earlier driving instincts assist me with my theory and practical knowledge or will I have to undo all my natural actions and work harder to understand why these rules are in the first place and the many reasons for their being?
After 20 years of driving, these tests will be a breeze and for others, it's a small bump. Because driving in Mumbai, with all the nonsense thrown at you daily, survival instincts kick in naturally.
We can fault our pothole filled roads, crumbling infrastructure but it's going to get us nowhere. There is always the hidden rules in Mumbai that take us that extra mile. Driving with the knowledge that aunty's crossing have their way, cyclists have little space, vegetable carts are pushed across large stretches and kids have nowhere else to play.
We all know the rules but along the way, we have learned to adapt. So now with all that adaption and adoption, rules will have a new found respect. Hopefully, this respect will result in a newly acquired license!